Time is very short, and days can fly by without ever really achieving anything – or at least that’s how it feels. With this in mind I wanted to put together my top 10 list of habits that the most productive people use each and every day to improve productivity.
After all, if you can get a little more done a little more quickly, then you will be able to have more free time than you currently have, and that could be spent doing – well – you decide that!
Here are the top 10 habits that can really improve productivity for you – so that get more out of your day, and have more time to spare – hope they help!
#1 – Set the tone for the day right from the start
It’s all about your attitude.
Have you ever woken up and just not been able to get going? Everything is a struggle and you seem to be fighting a losing battle. This can go on all day if you’re not careful…
But if you make yourself (whether you are in the right mood or not) get going straight away, get moving and get something from your TO DO list done as soon as you can then this sets the tone for the rest of the day – in a good way!
#2 – Get your focus
Setting yourself specific goals for the day can really concentrate your mind.
Whether you have a list of housework to get through, errands to run, or you are working – setting goals gives you something to aim for, and can stop the overwhelm of looking at your ever increasing TO DO list.
Focus on what you can get done, and be realistic.
(This post I wrote a while back about “The 6 list” could really help you to organise your daily goals as well.)
#3 – Avoid procrastination
Have you ever got so much to do that overwhelm sets in and you just sit and procrastinate all day about what to do first?
Arguing with yourself over whats more important, what you could get done quickly etc… – but never actually getting it done?
Procrastination is the worlds biggest waste of time – so hopefully being more aware of it going forward will make you able to stop it before it sets in (this is my biggest difficulty as I want to get so much done!).
Avoiding procrastination means that you get more actually done – and therefore maybe end up with some extra time at the end of the day – which you could use for extra tasks, or simply to relax!
#4 – Schedule interruptions
Do you tend to stop whatever you are doing if the phone rings, or you hear an alert that you have a Facebook message or email? Do you end up sitting down to watch your favourite TV programme when it comes on the television?
Stopping and starting like this adds so much time to your day, and you may end up spending so much longer than anticipated on your computer/TV/phone that you don’t end up getting much of what you wanted done at all.
I am not saying don’t do these things, but you could let your phone take a message and then get back to that person when it’s more suitable for you (unless its an emergency), you could write emails at the end of the day, or record TV programmes so that you can watch them when you are ready to relax at the end of the day (same with social media).
Whatever you do – it’s about being more conscious of how you are spending your time, and also how you are wasting it as well…
#5 – Learn to say NO
NO is a valid response – although most of us feel guilty if we say it to people.
Look at it another way – if you say NO to things that you really can’t fit into your schedule, or things you simply don’t want to do – you are allowing yourself to say YES to other things that will make you happier – and who wouldn’t want that!
It’s quite empowering to learn to say NO.
Equally, say NO not just to others, but to yourself as well.
Learn to look through your tasks for the day and work out whether they really need to be done at all. Are you doing certain things through habit rather than necessity?
Even things like vacuuming the house 3 times a week instead of your usual everyday will make such a massive difference to how much time you have.
So it’s time to look carefully at what you do, and declutter what you can. From now on, take a step back from anything you are being asked to do (by others or by yourself) and really ensure it’s necessary before saying YES.
#6 – Schedule your TO DO’s
Scheduling TO DO’s is one of the biggest tricks to becoming more productive.
Firstly, having a long list of things TO DO is great, but if you don’t have spare time to look at them and do them then they will simply stay there forever.
On the other hand, appointments and items written in your diary get done because you have given them a time to do them.
If you look at your day and can fill any gaps with one or two TO DO’s then you will start to make a real dent in the list – and see yourself getting more productive.
#7 – Forget about perfection
This is another one I need to listen to!
Trying to do things to perfection every time can be oh so draining. Spending hours scrubbing and cleaning the house til it sparkles every day, or working on a project til the early hours of the morning to get it just right – anything that takes up excess energy and gives your stress is not good for productivity.
If you can learn that nearly perfect is good enough, then there is no doubt in my mind that tasks can be finished more quickly and easily, and you can move through your TO DO list at much greater speed.
#8 – Balance your day
If you have a project to get done for work, or guests coming to stay for the weekend, you may want to spend all your time preparing for these things in the days running up to the event.
Although you may get that task done, you will have no doubt left other things untended to, piling up waiting for you to get round to them again – and you may also spend so much time focusing on one thing that you end up burning out if you do that and only that for any length of time.
Getting some balance in your day is a great habit to have as you will be more mindful about ensuring that all aspects of your home and life are on track a little each day.
Try and do a little work, a little household tasks, relax a little, exercise, eat well and socialise – it does take a little work to get the balance right, but its so worth it as you will be happier, and you are always more productive when happier.
#9 – Plan the day ahead of time
Ideally the last thing you do each day will be to plan the following day out.
This means that you get to look at what’s scheduled, what you need to do, whether you have some spare time you can be more productive with (i.e fill in some TO DOs so that they get done), or whether you have overstretched yourself (you are never productive when you feel like you aren’t achieving what you should).
You can not only get everything ready for the next day (school stuff, work stuff, gym bag, outfits etc…), but you will also go to sleep with your subconscious knowing what you are doing to do the following day, so you will wake up ready to go and feeling prepared (see #1 again!)
#10 – Use rewards
Rewards are always a good way to become more productive – as they give you an incentive to get to the finish of something.
Rewards don’t have to be anything fancy – but just saying things like you will have a long bath if you clean the house that day, or you will go for a coffee with a friend for an hour if you get a project done, is usually enough to get you started on your tasks and keep motivated to get them finished.
Have something to look forward to at all times!